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in the drift: Spring 2017


Issue 28, Spring 2017

Dear Society for Freshwater Science,

We are approaching a turning point in SFS communications. Our website has been in transition pretty much all year, and with help from Agentic Digital Media a newly redesigned website is very nearly a reality. Just hang on for a little bit longer. A couple of weeks ago, SFS members also voted to change our society's logo, in part because it is simply time for a change to reflect the evolving character of the Society, and in part because the updated logo will mesh well with the new website style.

The SFS Publications Committee is also in the process of identifying a new lead editor for in the drift. Yes, this very newsletter. Deb and Julie started ITD ten years ago, following the Columbia, SC meeting. Patina has also been closely involved in newsletter production since 2013, when we moved from pdf to web format. For all three of us, this is the last hurrah. Along with new website and new logo, ITD will also take off in who-knows-what creative and futuristic directions. ITD is ready for someone new to take the reins.

It has been freaking awesome working with so many SFSters over the years who have contributed ideas and content to ITD (with very minimal arm-twisting!). We appreciate everyone from Mateo Scoggins (Issue 1 Article Spotlight author) and Jeremy Monroe (helped create the ITD logo), to Pam Silver (with us from the start contributing updates about our journal), to Nick Aumen (starring in our most recent article addition "Dear Nick") and Bob Zuellig and David Walters (interviewees of the current issue's ITD Q&A). No one has ever said no to any request for content or participation. That is phenomenal and so SFS. We are leaving ITD in new hands, but we are forever SFSters (SFSers?), and we look forward to supporting all the new ideas down the line. From the sidelines.

So greet the old NABS stonefly up in the corner one last time, enjoy one last old-style ITD issue, and see you at #2017SFS!


Short SFS notes and quick links collected from "the drift"

Dave Herbst communicating freshwater science at the San Francisco March for Science, 22 April 2017. (photo: Linda Andreas



Last-minute info for Raleigh 2017

Lots going on this year in NC! Keep on top of it at: http://sfsannualmeeting.org


  • Presenting in Raleigh? Read oral and poster presentation guidelines here.
  • Search abstracts here: http://sfsannualmeeting.org/Search.cfm
  • Single-day registration rates will be available, as will guest tickets for the offsite social. Ask about these at the registration booth.
  • Get ready for both the silent book auction and the live auction (including new renditions of SFS karaoke). If you still have items to contribute, bring them to the conference center!
  • Participate in one or both Inclusivity workshops: LGBTQ Identity and Contemporary Cultural Climate: Supporting a Diverse Society (Sunday, 4 June, 1-5 PM); Understanding Gender and Sexuality (Wed 7 June, 12:45-1:45 PM)
  • There is still time to voice your opinions about why diversity and inclusivity matter to SFS in a video to be presented during the opening session on Sunday. Click here to find out how.
  • Are you an early-career SFS member? Things just got a whole lot better for you! See: http://sfsannualmeeting.org/EarlyCareer.cfm
  • We need more judges for student presentations. Help the new generation of SFSers! Contact Peggy Morgan to sign up.
  • Support SFS (i.e., keep us from losing tons of cash) by booking in a hotel where we have reserved rooms. If you qualify for federal rates, use this link to book at the Sheraton: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/events/start.action?id=1705241966&key=3AE9EA52
  • Live Tweet from the meeting! Use hashtag #2017SFS.
  • We will honor our inaugural group of SFS Fellows with the all-new Gallery of Fellows (including advice from each Fellow to young freshwater scientists), formal recognition during the closing plenary session, and a closing mixer in their honor. See collage below to find out who these inspirational SFSers are.
  • The USU Conference Services contact for any conference-related questions is Angie Griffeth. Contact her at: angie.griffeth@usu.edu


advice by Nick Aumen

I love my research on Collembola nutrient stoichiometry. I always look forward to giving a talk at the annual SFS meeting, but I often end up dismayed by the outcome. Last year I happened to turn away from my slides for a moment while I was explaining the intricacies of my field sampling technique, and I noticed that of the 15 people still in the audience, 5 were asleep and 10 were looking at their phones. I really want to communicate how awesome my research is. What am I doing wrong?


Your question is a good one, and you are not alone in facing this problem. Effective communication of technical information is not a strong point of scientists — my understatement of the day! Most of us are not taught how to be effective communicators, and only a few come by it naturally. When you attend your next SFS meeting, see how many talks you attend before you hear, "I know you can't read this slide, but..." I bet that phrase will be uttered early and often! Please don't be one of those presenters. Here are my very simple suggestions for slides and for the presentation.

For effective slides, in no particular order:

  • No more than one slide per minute — no exceptions!
  • Minimize text and maximize images.
  • Don't read your slides.
  • Make all text and numbers at least 28-point font.
  • Use only Helvetica or Arial fonts.
  • Minimize white space — i.e., enlarge your content to use all available space in the slide frame.
  • Never place multiple charts/graphs on one slide — that may be fine for print, but it simply does not work for a projected image in a large room (but, again, count how many times you see this type of slide at the next meeting).
  • Avoid fancy transitions, animations, and complex templates/backgrounds — they are distracting.
  • For your delivery, I have come across two great recommendations. The first is that the presentation is about you, not the slides. Make the audience focus on you, not the screen. Look at them and engage them. You love the work you do, you are passionate about science, so let those emotions into your presentation. Modulate your voice and look at your audience. Practice the presentation in front of someone who is not afraid to provide honest and positive criticism. Second, let your slides support your points, not make them. Do not read from your slides. Decide on the one conclusion or finding you want the audience to remember, and focus on that point throughout your talk. You only have 12 minutes, so your message cannot be detailed.

    The real test is if you can present a coherent, captivating, 12-minute talk without using any slides! Try it sometime. It really is not that difficult with a little practice. The internet is loaded with great ideas on both making effective slides, and on making effective talks. I recognize that you are not making a TED-style presentation, but I believe you can learn a lot from that approach. Spend some time learning from all these resources. It will pay off tremendously, and you will know you have succeeded when all eyes still are on you after those 12 minutes.

    "Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham, www.phdcomics.com



    Bob and David are USGS scientists based at the Aquatic Experimental Lab, which has recently released online the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (https://sciencebase.usgs.gov/naamdrc/#/) We thank Bob and David ('BZ&DW') for chatting with us about this useful new tool and its background.

    ITD: What is the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection?

    BZ&DW: The NAAMDRC is a clearing house for high quality, public-domain images for use in scientific research, presentations, and publications by the broader freshwater science community. Our goal is that this collection will be used as a tool by researchers and practitioners of freshwater science to:

    • Advance freshwater research that depends on identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates
    • Enhance teaching of aquatic ecology in K-12 and university classes
    • Aid training of students conducting freshwater research
    • Support resource management agencies and private-sector companies in processing aquatic macroinvertebrate samples

    ITD: Who is the intended audience that would be using the NAAMDRC as a tool?

    BZ&DW: The intended audience is anyone working with freshwater macroinvertebrates, especially those without easy access to a physical reference collection to help confirm identifications or those teaching aquatic ecology and related topics.
    Here are a few hypothetical scenarios highlighting potential users:

    1. A research group studying the effects of contaminants on stream invertebrates just completed enumerating and identifying specimens collected from a region where they don't normally work. As part of their internal quality assurance policies, a voucher collection of unique taxa assembled from project samples are verified by a 2nd internal taxonomist as well as by a SFS regionally certified taxonomist from an independent laboratory. Since the project was conducted in an unfamiliar region they encountered several genera that were "new" to the research group. So in addition to using available dichotomous keys and supporting literature to make determinations, the 2nd internal taxonomist compared their specimens with digital images in NAAMDRC before sending the voucher collection to the independent laboratory.
    2. An undergraduate student enrolled in an aquatic entomology course uses NAAMDRC digital images to help study for weekly laboratory quizzes and to verify specimen identifications in their growing personal collection due at the end of the semester.
    3. A graduate student is putting together a presentation for the next SFS meeting and wants to use images to highlight important taxa from their research. Lucky for them NAAMDRC serves as a clearing house of high quality, public-domain images for use by the broader freshwater science community. The SFS student would simply search for the taxa of interest, download the photo of choice, and use the suggested citation.

    ITD: What are the benefits of a digital reference collection versus, say, Merritt & Cummins or a reference collection of actual physical specimens in vials?

    BZ&DW: All reference collections, either physical or digital, are additional tools to help confirm identifications previously determined using current literature and major publications such as Merritt and Cummins. When used in conjunction with current literature they should provide another layer of confidence in determinations. The digital images provide those without access to physical collections a chance to help confirm identifications using another source of information. Although physical collections and the information they contain are inherently valuable and actually irreplaceable (there is nothing like having the actual specimen under the scope), the specimens themselves are often fragile and can deteriorate from repeated handling.

    Collage of NAAMDRC images for the perlodid genus Malirekus.

    ITD: How complete is the digital reference collection at this point, as far as geographic coverage of North America and life stages of each genus?

    BZ&DW: The scope and geographic focus thus far is on taxa located in the Western USA (i.e., those occurring west of the Mississippi River). However, because genera are generally widespread, the collection includes many taxa that occur in the Eastern USA, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere (e.g., Holarctic taxa). The current emphasis is on the aquatic insect orders, Coleoptera, Diptera, Ephemeroptera, Hemiptera, Megaloptera, Neuroptera, Odonata, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera. The majority of digitized specimens represent immature life stages, but in some cases images are also available for pupae and adult stages. A full list of the collection holdings, including life stages, is maintained on the website and is continuously updated as taxa are added.

    ITD: Are there plans to continue expanding the digital collection?

    BZ&DW: Our intent is to expand the geographic and taxonomic scope to include all taxa (including non-insect groups) found in North America. By necessity we will rely on contributions from other researchers for this effort. If you are interested in helping in this effort, instructions for specimen contribution are included on the NAAMDRC website. Other possibilities for the future include linking distribution maps and ecological trait information to each taxon so that the collection serves as a "digital ecological atlas" of aquatic macroinvertebrates of North America. These additions will depend on funding, which we are actively seeking.

    ITD: Describe the historical background leading up to the project.

    BZ&DW: I (Bob Zuellig) have spent quite a bit of my time at USGS working with the National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA). That project began in 1993, and for the most part all invertebrate samples were processed in-house by the USGS BioGroup (National Water Quality Laboratory, Denver, CO). That lab typically stored all identified specimens and sample remnants, but around 2010 the group needed to reduce their volume of stored material. At this time our own lab, the USGS Aquatic Experimental Laboratory (AXL, Fort Collins Science Center, Colorado), was gearing up to internally process invertebrate samples. We were able to build our own physical reference collection by acquiring specimens collected and identified by the NAWQA BioGroup. As AXL gained projects and personnel, we began to digitize specimens to make it easier to train new technicians. Hence the idea for NAAMDRC was born.

    ITD: Who were/are the key personnel involved in shifting NAAMDRC from idea to reality?

    BZ&DW: The two of us and Morgan Ford have been the main players and together conceived the idea of NAAMDRC. David Walters manages the project and made the initial push to move from concept to production. Bob Zuellig was heavily involved in the beginning bridging the gap to the BioGroup and building the reference collection for AXL. Morgan Ford supervised photography and image processing. He recently left Fort Collins to work with USGS in Flagstaff, AZ and continues to contribute images to the collection. Other major contributors include Robert Hood and Scott Grotheer with the BioGroup at the National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver. Boris Kondratieff with the Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity at Colorado State University continues to provide thoughtful comments and access to collection holdings within the Gillette Museum. This has truly been a collaborative effort.

    ITD: Where did the funding come from to get the project this far?

    BZ&DW: The funding for NAAMDRC came from USGS Ecosystems and Environmental Health programs and was also supported in part by a grant from NSF to DW.

    ITD: The acronym (NAAMDRC) is pretty unwieldy. Is there a "nickname" or perhaps a pronunciation you could suggest to help us figure out how to mention it in everyday conversation?

    BZ&DW: Yes we are aware the acronym is a bit awkward, and a reviewer of the website described it as "horrible". It does, however, highlight what this tool is intended to represent…the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate, Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC). We suggest that users call it "nam-dirk", and we sincerely apologize for burdening our colleagues with a subpar acronym.

    ITD: Will any of the authors/creators of the "nam-dirk" be at the meeting in Raleigh for SFSters to chat with?

    BZ&DW: Yes! Please come see Morgan Ford, the main photographer for the project, present "An open-source digital reference collection for aquatic macroinvertebrates of North America". His presentation will be at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 7th in the combined session 35 (Systematics and Taxonomy) and 21 (Communicating Science).


    Pam's Journal Notes

    Pam's Corner

    Hmmm, what determines whether an issue of FWS will be too thick, too thin, or "just right"? FWS editor Pam Silver fills us in on all the variables that go into estimating the number of pages that will be published in our journal in any given year (and why that number has been particularly unstable over the past few years!).

    One of the most challenging tasks I have is projecting the number of pages that will be published in any given year. This projection drives the journal's budget for the upcoming year(s). The number of pages published in any given year is a function of the number of submissions, manuscript turn-around times, and rejection rates in the previous year. Submission numbers respond strongly to impact factor and turn-around time, but the response lags an additional year for 2 reasons. First, the impact factor (IF) for any given year does not come out until June of the next year, and second, it takes time for word to get out that our turn-around times are running faster or slower than average. Papers take time to write and submit, so submission responses lag the IF by 6 months to a year. For example, FWS had no IF for 2012, but J-NABS's IF was still very strong and we had many regular and special-issue submissions in 2013. The very high submission rate in 2013 led to more papers than we could publish in 2014 and 2015 given our new page restrictions. FWS had a very weak IF for 2013 (released in June 2014) and a weak IF for 2014 (released in June 2015) because of the title change, and long turn-around times because of the 2014—2015 backlog. That meant declining submissions in 2014 and 2015 and fewer papers for publication in 2016. The 2015 IF (released in June 2016) was strong, probably because FWS finally had 2 full years of citation data and our turn-around time decreased once the backlog was published. Our submission rate rebounded to 2013 rates starting in late 2016. The number of submissions as of May 18, 2017 (99), was higher (without special series submissions) than on the same date in any previous year, and I anticipate ~275 submissions in 2017.

    How do well do submission rates predict the number of pages? The R² for the regression of pages published on papers submitted in the previous year is ~0.79. This relationship holds as long as things are "normal", but I would hardly call the last 5 years normal. The ~1600-page volume in 2015 and the huge issue in March 2016 (~450 pages) resolved the backlog, but page restrictions have the effect of uncoupling submissions and papers published until a new equilibrium is reached by adjusting rejection rates. The lower submission rates (and higher rejection rates) in 2015 and 2016 left subsequent issues in 2016 thin (~1400 pages total) and the first 2 issues in 2017 very thin (~450 pages total). The late 2016 and early 2017 accepted manuscripts are arriving on my desk now, but the September issue (due June 16) will be thin. The December issue will be much thicker, and 2018 will be another big year. I have projected ~1100 pages for 2017 and ~1600 for 2018 (assuming our 2016 IF remains high). We'll know how well the IF crystal ball worked by next year, and we'll see if the roller coaster ride levels out a bit.



    The 4TH SUSE Meeting Happens in NC at the Haw River State Park

    Any questions about the Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology, or the 2017 Haw River meeting specifically? Check the SUSE website. Thanks to Joanna Blaszczak for the info!

    The upcoming 4th Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology (SUSE4) is being held just prior to the 2017 Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) annual meeting in Raleigh, NC on May 31st through June 3rd. The central theme of the symposium is identifying and overcoming common barriers to catchment scale urban stream management and rehabilitation. This diverse group of ecologists, engineers, and practitioners has met previously in Melbourne, Australia (2003), Salt Lake City, UT (2008 prior to NABS), and Portland, OR (2014 prior to SFS/JASM).

    All previous symposia were productive and led to special issues in J-NABS (24(3) and 28(4)) and Freshwater Science (35(1)). These issues include some of the most highly cited papers about urban stream ecology such as "The urban stream syndrome: current knowledge and the search for a cure" written by Chris Walsh and others that has been cited over 1,300 times according to Google Scholar. Following the 3rd symposium in Portland, several authors of the manuscripts in the special issue wrote short white-paper summaries that can be found on the SUSE website to help communicate the outcomes of the meeting. Overall, the SUSE meetings have provided an avenue for developing and communicating novel research on urban steams.

    SUSE4 will focus on creating a framework to support productive conversations among academics and professionals from the fields of stream ecology, engineering, management, planning, and the social sciences. The format of the symposium will emphasize interactive discussions among participants from these fields, but will also include poster and oral presentations. The ultimate goal of the symposium is to encourage an ongoing transdisciplinary and co-evolutionary approach to urban stream management and rehabilitation. Outcomes may include developing and implementing novel management approaches, developing new collaborations, identifying research priorities and funding opportunities, and additional actions that address priorities identified at the symposium.

    Please visit the SUSE4 website (http://urbanstreams.wordpress.com) for additional symposium details and periodic updates. For those who are unable to attend but are still interested in the outputs of the meeting, please keep an eye on the SUSE4 website. There will also be two special sessions (S02 and S23) at the SFS meeting related to the urban themes discussed at SUSE4.

    SUSE participant and EPA scientist Sylvia Lee samples algae in an urban stream in Baltimore, Maryland. Sylvia has published cool work on the ecological consequences of amphetamine pollution in urban streams. (photo: Joanna Blaszczak)


    Your in the drift newsletter is brought to you by Deb Finn, Julie Zimmerman, Rachel Voight, David Manning, and Patina Mendez. We represent the Public Information and Publicity (PIP) committee of SFS, co-chaired by Becky Bixby and Ayesha Burdett.
    What's New
    • Making Waves Podcast Episode 26: Carbon Fates, Dr. Erin Hotchkiss more
    • Fall 2017 Issue of In the Drift now available! more
    • September 2017 Issue of Freshwater Science now online more
    • Does Cultural Diversity Matter to Scientific Societies? Read the President's Environment more
    • SFS Student Presentation Awards! more
    • In the drift just fell into your sampler! The Spring 2015 Newsletter is here! more
    • Making Waves Podcast Episode 14: Nitrogen Fixation in a Warming World, Dr. Jill Welter more
    BENTHOS News
    • The deadline to submit proposals for AQUATROP Special Sessions or Symposiums is now November 17, 2017

    • SFS joins CASS in condemning silencing of EPA scientists

    • Andy Leidolf appointed as SFS Executive Director



      Over 60 logos were submitted by 28 individuals and narrowed to 3 finalists. Now is your chance to select the winner.

    • SFS signs two letters sent to the US EPA regarding the Trump Administration's proposed revisions to the Waters of the US rule


    More SFS News...

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